Following a public information meeting in Calvert City last night (Thursday), Kentucky Transportation Cabinet officials and engineers are considering how to modernize the nearby I-69 / I-24 interchange.
Thursday, state highway officials and project engineers heard comment from residents at a public information meeting in Calvert City.
Through agreements with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Kentucky is upgrading and modernizing portions of the Purchase, Western Kentucky and Pennyrile parkways to allow conversion to I-69. Kentucky now has 55 miles designated as I-69 from the I-24/Purchase Parkway interchange to the Western Kentucky/Pennyrile Parkway interchange.
Deputy State Highway Engineer Gary Valentine says there's been concern over the effect shutting down the interchange’s connecting spur would have on drivers' commutes. But he says the interchange doesn't meet Federal Highway safety requirements and must be updated. Valentine says it needs to accommodate the safety of out-of-state travelers who have to make decisions at high speeds.
“Not the locals who know the area but the national traveler, it has to meet their expectations to make sure they maneuver the interchange safely," said Valentine. "So our initial options did do that but we do recognize that we have heard the public, and that’s a major concern. So what we’ve committed to is that we’re gonna go back to the drawing board. Reexamine is there any way to meet the national and regional needs of I-69 and kinda mitigate the impacts to the local community here.”
But KYTC District 1 Chief Engineer Mike McGregor says most of the 300 people at the meeting were there to become informed about the upcoming construction.
“From what I saw, I think people were interested to learn more about what is a major split of two interstates and what are some of the federal guidelines we have to meet when we convert the parkway over to an interstate," said McGregor. "And certainly there was locally a lot of feedback and concern about impacts to the racetrack and the desire to keep the connection from I-24 over to US 62.”
McGregor says project engineers are taking the plans back to the drawing board and will meet again with the public later in the year.
He says transportation officials are working with a $34 million construction budget and can use another 3 million for right-of-way and utility acquisition.
KYTC estimates approximately 7,200 drivers use the interchange each day.
I-69 is a major corridor running from Canada to Mexico passing through Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi and Michigan.